Tom Hewson Trio


Cam Jazz Presents CAMJ 3316-5

8052405141583 - Treehouse - CD

Artists :
Tom Hewson Trio ( Band )
Tom Hewson ( Piano )
Lewis Wright ( Vibraphone )
Calum Gourlay ( Bass )
Release date
Sep 22, 2015

Tom Hewson, a young English pianist, on his debut album on the Roman label presents his “Treehouse” project with an exceptionally unique ensemble, featuring Lewis Wright on vibraphone and Calum Gourlay on double bass.  This trio has already proven itself in live performances at various British clubs and has finally released its first CD. John Taylor, a fellow countryman, as well as a fellow pianist and distinguished predecessor on CAM JAZZ roster, labelled Hewson’s playing style as “ravishing and daring”, and also called him a “sublime composer”.

A CD that is definitely jazz, yet the kind of modern jazz that is able to reach everybody and has assimilated many other languages. It consists of enlightened, full-fledged, suggestive, well-structured pieces, not a simple task or, at least, not obvious, if one considers the unusual, unique trio Hewson has assembled. Thus, from the opening track, “Sparticle”, to the closing one, “Beanie’s Bounce”, a wide range of moods is delivered, with stunning solos flowing in the moment and excellent interplay.  Hewson has the leading role, having written most of the songs here. Wright’s contribution includes “Lifting”, a less-than-a-minute, improvised nugget, and splendid “Silver Strands”, while Gourlay composed “Lingering”, a short, solo experiment for double bass.

All original compositions.

Recorded in Oxford (U.K.) on 31 May 2013 at Jacqueline du Pré Music Building Recording engineer Josh Kemp

Liner notes by Federico Scoppio



John Taylor, pianista di Manchester ci ha lasciati il 17 luglio scorso, a 73 anni, nel pieno di un’attività creativa che ne aveva rilanciato lo stile complesso, grazie al passaggio alla CAM, come mostrano gli ultimi due cd, 2081, in quartetto con voce, tuba, batteria ispirato a un racconto di Vonnegut e in duo per On The Way To Two co-firmato da Kenny Wheeler (tromba e flicorno) dal lungo sodalizio… A raccogliere il testimone di Taylor è oggi un altro pianista inglese che a nome di Tom Hewson Trio con il secondo album Treehouse (CAM JAZZ), interagendo con vibrafono e contrabbasso, in dieci tracce originali, fra temi cantabili e licenze introspettive puntando soprattutto alla dimensione timbrica nel gioco solidissimo fra i tre strumenti.

16/1/2016Alias - Il ManifestoGuido Michelone
‘Treehouse’ – Tom Hewson Trio

A TRIO ALBUM with a difference, this has been swirling around in my head for some time now, captivating me with its cerebral and emotional effect on the senses.
The lofty soundscapes of the Tom Hewson Trio’s debut release, Treehouse – with magical combined timbres of piano, vibraphone and double bass – might evoke white-streamed morning mists and glistening, eddying streams, or equally possess a swinging, quicksilver sprightliness to raise an involuntary smile. It’s certainly an album of precise yet often fearless chamber jazz which demands close attention to its shifting complexities and frequent coruscations of beauty. Described by one of Tom Hewson’s musical heroes – the late, respected John Taylor – as a pianist and “sublime composer” with a “ravishing and daring” style, he cites key musical discoveries which have helped shape his personality and career. As well as Taylor, these include the music of Ravel, Debussy, Paul Bley, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell… and such influences become remarkably apparent across this album of ten originals. Hewson’s colleagues, since the trio’s inception in 2010, are Lewis Wright (vibes) and Calum Gourlay (double bass). This project’s unwavering appeal is due in part to the mercurial weave of textures that is possible between the players, suggesting in the first few minutes of opening track Sparticle that any augmentation, especially percussion, might hinder this perfect synergy. Flowing French impressionism here melds easily with bold, syncopated rhythm; and sprightly solo piano passages become organically infused with gently dancing bass and the sustained chimes of vibraphone. The democratic outlook of the trio is another important factor – title track Treehouse, for example, allowing Hewson to become rhythm maker beneath Wright’s glowing improvisations; rockin’-in-rhythm Glitch is predominantly a lively, Oscar Peterson-style piano-and-bass feature until previously subtle vibes flamboyantly (Gary Burton-style) steal the show; and, in contrast, Silver Strands and Gelsomina are both sensitively crafted, raindrop-splashed watercolours, their luscious harmonies possessing paradoxical contentment and melancholy. Interspersing the main features are three solo improvisations from each instrumentalist, offering a window on their raw creativity and the overtones and resonances achievable; Gourlay’s harmonic arco bass exploration, sans effects, is particularly intriguing. Maybe suggesting the livelier side of Bill Evans, Not Relevant’s bright swing is characterised by oscillating vibes and piano riffs, opening the door for clean-cut piano extemporisations as well as twinkling moments of repose. And Beanie’s Bounce (shades of Bouncing with Bud?) serves as a fabulous curtain call, its crackling verve showcasing each player’s physical and creative dexterity, with Hewson’s audacious, bluesy piano solo spot a standout. You won’t often hear a jazz landscape as simultaneously sincere, eloquent and lucent as this, nor one which throws out shooting-star surprises each time it’s played. A rare and focused treasure from an adventurous British trio.

9/1/2016ap-reviews.comAdrian Pallant
Tom Hewson Trio – Treehouse

Something sort of enchanting about this trio session of pianist Hewson, vibraphonist Lewis Wright and bassist Calum Gourlay. Even at its most active, the music retains a starry-night-sky peacefulness to it. The meshing of melodic and rhythmic elements is the primary driver of the music’s lively tranquility. There are times on this recording that the trio comes together harmonically and it is absolutely absorbing.

23/12/2015birdistheworm.comDave Sumner
Treehouse Tom Hewson Trio

An excellent album and a recording that feels like something of a breakthrough for the supremely talented Tom Hewson. “Treehouse” glows brightly throughout.
Tom Hewson, originally from Kent and a graduate of New College in Oxford is a young pianist and composer who was mentored by the late, great John Taylor. Now aged thirty Hewson leads a number of projects including a quintet (with George Crowley - sax, Nick Malcolm - trumpet, Ferg Ireland - bass, James Maddren - drums) and the electric trio Identity Parade (Alam Nathoo - sax, Pete Ibbetson – drums). In 2012 he released “Slightly Peculiar” an album of original music for solo piano that attracted a considerable amount of critical acclaim. Two years later he was awarded first prize at the 2014 Nottingham International Jazz Piano competition. As an in demand sideman he has worked with drummer Asaf Sirkis, guitarist Ant Law and saxophonist Mark Lockheart. He is also a skilled vocal accompanist and has collaborated with singers such as Nicky Schrire and Fini Bearman.
However the main focus of Hewson’s creative talents is his ‘Treehouse’ trio featuring vibraphonist Lewis Wright and bassist Calum Gourlay. It’s probably thanks to the John Taylor connection that Hewson has been able to release this superbly recorded on the Italian Cam Jazz imprint, Taylor’s label for over a decade following his departure from ECM. Federico Scoppio’s liner notes make reference to Hewson’s many influences from classical (Ravel, Debussy) to jazz (Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Jimmy Guiffre, Dave Holland) to contemporary rock and electronic music (Radiohead, Aphex Twin). It’s true that elements of all of these can be heard in the Trio’s music (Wright and Gourlay also contribute tunes to the album) but ultimately this is a very fine jazz album made by three supremely gifted musicians and improvisers. The press release also finds Hewson acknowledging the influence of jazz pianists ranging from Oscar Peterson through Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk to Paul Bley. With a drummer-less instrumental configuration it’s inevitable that the music to be heard on “Treehouse” will be categorised as ‘chamber jazz’. However with Wright and Gourlay on board and thanks in no small part to Hewson’s own left hand there is no lack of rhythmic invention and variation. This is a recording that is consistently vital and absorbing and very far from bloodless. Yes, there are many moments of beauty but this is music that is never bland and goes way beyond mere ‘prettiness’. There are moments when the rapport between Hewson and Wright reminds me of the chemistry between Chick Corea and Gary Burton - yes, “Treehouse” really is that good. The high quality of the production is also a significant factor in the album’s success. The album was recorded over the course of a single day at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building in Oxford with saxophonist Josh Kemp acting as engineer. The album was subsequently mixed by Kemp and Hewson and mastered by Danilo Rossi with producer Ermanno Basso overseeing the whole process. The album commences with Hewson’s tune “Sparticle”, a composition that hints at the influence of John Taylor and includes lengthy passages of flowing solo piano as well as plenty of characteristically sparkling interplay between Hewson and Wright while Gourlay initially occupies his traditional anchoring role. However this is a very democratic trio and following the expansive solos by Hewson and Wright the bassist contributes his own succinct and highly melodic solo in the closing stages of the piece. Hewson’s title track exemplifies the trio’s rhythmic inventiveness with Hewson’s quick-fire rhythmic motifs helping to fuel Wright’s lightly skipping flights of fancy at the vibes. The pianist’s own solo is a beguiling mix of melody and rhythm and a more than ample demonstration of his immense technical abilities. The brief “Lifting”, which clocks in at under minute, is credited to Wright and is a tantalising improvised snippet of solo vibes. At first Wright deploys a hard, clanking, highly percussive metallic sound before shifting to shimmering, ethereal, space like timbres that seem almost electronic. The press release mentions the influence of Frank Zappa on Wright’s playing and composing. More obvious is that of contemporary vibes players such as the Americans Matt Moran, and Jason Adasiewicz and the UK’s own Jim Hart and Corey Mwamba. Wright’s sound goes far beyond that of Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson or even Gary Burton. Hewson’s “Not Relevant” features one of his most memorable melodic motifs and is the vehicle for some terrific interplay between all three musicians. The piece also exhibits an impressive degree of emotional and dynamic contrast as it undertakes several twists and turns during its five and a half minute duration. In the hands of these three gifted performers the ‘chamber jazz’ instrumental configuration becomes liberating rather than restrictive. Also by Hewson “Gelsomina” is more obviously about beauty, a ballad that includes a delightfully melodic Gourlay bass solo amidst the lyrical piano and delicately luminous vibes. Credited to Hewson “Splitting” is a brief passage of solo improvised piano lasting a little over a minute that still manages to retain an underlying lyricism despite its moments of avant garde inspired dissonance. It acts as the precursor to “Glitch” which manages to combine a very modern rhythmic, edgy urgency with a more light-hearted conventional jazz feel. Gourlay even plays walking bass at one point as Hewson and Wright deliver good natured but dazzling solos. It’s a good example of Hewson’s traditional and contemporary jazz influences coming together. “Silver Strands” is a fully fledged composition from Wright, a piece that that exemplifies the beauty of the sound of the vibes as Wright’s singing overtones combine with the lyricism of Hewson’s piano on a slowly unfolding piece that exhibits something of a Steve Reich influence with its subtly interlocking melodic and rhythmic patterns. There’s a delightful solo from Wright himself during the tune’s latter stages. “Lingering” is a short passage of improvised double bass credited to Gourlay which features eerie, grainy bowed sounds. It only lasts forty eight seconds but Gourlay is a musician who has recorded an entire solo bass album, “Live at The Ridgeway”, released earlier in 2015, a record that is surprisingly accessible and well worth hearing. The “Treehouse” album concludes on an exuberant note with Hewson’s tune “Beanie’s Bounce”, a playful tribute to conventional jazz virtues and to bebop pioneers such as Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The easy collective rapport of the trio is again evident and there are also some brilliant individual moments including a bravado passage of unaccompanied piano from leader Hewson and an effervescent vibes solo from Wright, these punctuated by a final bass feature from the excellent Gourlay. “Treehouse” is an excellent album and a recording that feels like something of a breakthrough for the supremely talented Tom Hewson. It’s not often that a young British musician gets to record for a major European label with international distribution and in musical terms Hewson has seized the opportunity with both hands. “Treehouse” glows brightly throughout and even the brief solo improvised episodes hold the attention, something that risked sounding like an unnecessary indulgence actually provides very effective punctuation in the context of the album as a whole.

9/11/2015thejazzmann.comIan Mann
Tom Hewson Trio: Treehouse - 4 stars

Treehouse, album number two from the young British pianist Tom Hewson, finds him working in a trio (which is also known as Treehouse) alongside two more of the brightest young players on the UK jazz scene—bassist Calum Gourlay and vibes player Lewis Wright. It's a lyrical and engaging collection—mostly of Hewson's own compositions—with the relatively rare pairing of piano and vibes giving the music an added frisson of interest.
Hewson's debut, Slightly Peculiar (Self Produced, 2012), was a solo album noteworthy for its bucolic calm and the influence of Bill Evans and Olivier Messiaen. Treehouse is a brighter affair, the addition of vibes and bass giving the tunes added urgency while the compositions themselves conjure up more of an urban feel (as in built-up areas, not hip-hop or rap). There's still the breadth of styles and influences that characterised the debut and made it such an appealing collection.
This time round, Hewson says that the music brings together some more key influences—Ravel and Debussy as well as Evans, plus Paul Bley, bebop, Oscar Peterson and John Taylor. The slow and beautiful "Gelsomina" is probably closest to Bill Evans Trio territory—Gourlay's considered and spacious bass playing is especially delightful.
"Glitch" is a sprightly and humorous number that eventually breaks into bebop and in so doing presents the album's most straight-ahead few minutes. Gourlay keeps things centered round his walking bass line, piano and vibes each solo inventively. Wright's "Silver Strands" is the most delicate of the longer tunes, a feature for his softer-toned vibes sound and a showcase for the way in which he and Hewson can interweave their instrumental lines so subtly. "Beanie's Bounce" is another up-tempo tune, with Hewson slipping between boogie, bop and Ravel-ish classical phrases. Just to add to the mix, it's the tune where Wright's vibes come closest to betraying the Frank Zappa influence claimed by the press release—think "200 Motels," if only fleetingly.
Three tunes, barely 60 seconds each, are solo pieces. "Lifting" is Wright's contribution—a crystalline opening gives way to a softer tone before the piece ends (although it doesn't seem to resolve), drawing forth memories of some of the weirder children's programmes of decades past."Splitting" is Hewson's tune, a skittish, jumpy 74 seconds that does indeed sound like it's about to split. Gourlay gives us "Lingering," the shortest of the three—a dark, dense, arco piece.

5/10/2015AllAboutJazz.comBruce Lindsay

Producing impressionistic, dreamy cloudscapes of jazz, Treehouse offer music free of cliche - as well as sax, trumpet, drums or bass. Fronted by top young pianist Tom Hewson, this trio with vibraphone & bass are fresh as a daisy, & fitting us in on their way to gigs in Norwich & the London Jazz Festival. Don't miss a band definitely on its way up.
Treehouse take the improvisational drive of jazz into a chamber context, showcasing the virtuosity and interplay of three of the country’s top young jazz musicians in a crystal-clear ensemble with a rich, acoustic sound taking in influences such as Dave Holland, Paul Bley, Jimmy Giuffre and The Claudia Quintet. Playing original music from their new album on European label CAM JAZZ (released 2nd October 2015) expect vivid soundscapes, free-flowing improvisations and striking contrasts.

5/10/ David Ellingham
Tom Hewson Trio: “Treehouse”

Il giovane pianista e compositore inglese Tom Hewson è affiancato da Lewis Wright al vibrafono e Calum Gourlay al contrabbasso nell’album “Treehouse”, edito dalla CAM Jazz per la serie Presents, pensata per presentare i nuovi talenti del jazz internazionale. Dieci tracce in quaranta minuti, tutte originali, dove il trio mostra una peculiare dimensione timbrica, sviluppata soprattutto nell’interazione tra pianoforte e vibrafono, oltre a un’affiatata flessibilità espressiva, messa a punto in una lunga serie di esperienze dal vivo che hanno preceduto l’incisione, e un linguaggio che sa essere sia misurato sia pronto ad aprire il compasso dell’improvvisazione. Hewson espone perlopiù temi cantabili, anche se in scaletta non mancano licenze introspettive e spigolose.

24/9/2015 strategieoblique.blogspot.itRoberto Paviglianiti
Tom Hewson Trio Treehouse

Treehouse by the ex-Trinity Laban, E17 Jazz Collective pianist Tom Hewson is part of a new series by the long-established Italian recording label CAM JAZZ to promote emerging young artists. He’s one of very few Englishmen to record as a bandleader for the illustrious label, another being the pianist’s mentor and key influence, the now sadly departed John Taylor. It’s a deeply impressive and accessible debut by a trio that Hewson is lining up for a UK tour. Formed in 2010, Treehouse is a piano trio with a difference; the percussion instrument is a tuned one and is played by the superb Empirical vibraphonist Lewis Wright who adds plenty of atmosphere and invigorating solos into the mix alongside Kit Downes associated double bassist Calum Gourlay. Hewson is a resourceful instrumentalist who finds an eloquent way to bridge various jazz idioms within his pastorally lyrical yet rhythmically propulsive soundworld. He is also a composer with wit to spare and retains a close link between thematic development and improvisation at all times. The trio lean towards the more traditional end of chamber MJQ-like cool on Hewson’s engagingly skittish ‘Glitch’, and – though less overtly – on their playfully swingin’ counterpoint on ‘Beanie’s Bounce’. But on this evidence, Hewson clearly sounds like a jazz artist looking forward rather than back.

15/9/2015JazzwiseSelwyn Harris